Woman given MC failed to stay home amid pandemic and took son to pre-school

Michelle Foo Shi Ching on June 10, 2021. She pleaded guilty in a district court to two charges under the Infectious Diseases Act. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - A woman, who was issued a medical certificate (MC) and told to stay home amid the Covid-19 outbreak, broke the law and walked her son to his pre-school three days later.

After that, Michelle Foo Shi Ching took a private-hire car to MacPherson before making her way to Great World City shopping centre in Kim Seng Promenade, where she met four friends for a movie. She did not tell them that she was on MC.

The Malaysian woman, who is a Singapore permanent resident, also left her home the next day, the court heard.

Foo, now 25, pleaded guilty in a district court on Monday (Jan 31) to two charges under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jonathan Lee said that Foo had gone to a clinic on July 14, 2020 after she complained of a sore throat and cough.

A doctor then diagnosed her with an upper respiratory tract infection and issued her an MC, stressing that she was "required by law to stay home for five days".

The doctor also told Foo that she was not supposed to leave her home for any purpose except to seek urgent medical attention. Foo accepted the MC and understood the terms.

Despite this, she left her Bedok North flat at around 9.15am on July 17, 2020 and walked her son to a nearby PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots pre-school.

After that, Foo walked home before she took a private-hire car to a block of flats in MacPherson Lane at around 3.30pm that day.

About two hours later, she took another private-hire car to Great World City, where she met her friends for a movie.

She took a taxi back to her Bedok North home when the movie ended, only to reoffend at around 3.30am next day.

This time, she took a private-hire car to the MacPherson Lane flat and returned to her Bedok North home about seven hours later.

Court documents do not disclose how her offences came to light, but when caught, she initially denied leaving her home during the duration of her MC.

The DPP said: "She only admitted after (she) was confronted with the evidence. The accused admitted that she knew that it was an offence to leave her (home) during the duration of the MC but she 'did not think too much about it' when she did so."

On Monday, defence lawyer Mohamed Arshad told the court that according to a psychiatrist, Foo was likely to be suffering from an adjustment disorder at the time of the offences.

District Judge Marvin Bay then called for a report to assess her suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).

Offenders given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.

The judge said: "I should make it clear that the offences involving breaches of quarantine orders... are extremely serious... and deterrent sentences are generally meted out to discourage others from committing similar offences.

"Nevertheless, it may be expedient to investigate further where an expert has expressed a view of the accused suffering from a mental or psychological condition that he believes to have likely contributed to her offending."

Foo is expected to be sentenced on March 9.

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